Miss Letting-Go-Getting

Assignment Web 2.0 Tool Review: Ning
October 16, 2007, 4:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

First came MySpace, then Facebook and now Ning, a fairly new Web 2.0 tool (in its current form) allowing anyone to create a unique social network from scratch, for free. With MySpace and Facebook, members belong to one massive social network. Though there is the option to join specific groups, they all still exist as part of the larger organism. In contrast, Ning gives anyone the power to design a complete network around whatever passion, interest, or organization they want to promote and share with like-minded folks.

In his blog, Ning co-creator Mark Andreesen, equates Ning with second generation social networking stating:

“the more people learn what social networking makes possible, the more interested they will be in creating their own worlds. their own social networks, around every conceivable need and niche: their families, friends, cities, companies, start-ups, classes, hobbies, interests, political candidates, nonprofit activities, and so on.”

Add to that list libraries!

With Ning, network creators can:

  • make their network public or private
  • fully customize and brand their site
  • for a small fee, opt to include their own advertising or remove all advertising

With Ning, network members can:

  • design their own profile page, useable on any Ning network they join
  • start their own blog
  • participate in network forums
  • Add pictures, music, widgets
  • Add features seamlessly into Facebook

Extremely viral, Ning has recently exceeded 100,000 networks. Some savvy libraries and librarians have started using Ning to create their own environments for collaboration, discussion and play. Roselle Public Library uses the forums on their network for book discussions, networking tips, jokes, and audio books. In addition, they have photos from library events, links to the catalog and RSS feeds for new items in the collection. Ning networks also exist for library technicians, support staff, catalogers, collection managers, MLS students and even Library 2.0.

Easy, free and completely customizable, Ning is a great way for libraries, professionals, and patrons to enter the next level of social networking. I strongly believe that smaller, more specific social networks will be the next big thing and libraries should catch the wave now! By providing a specific network for our patrons to communicate with us and fellow library users, we can serve them better. By joining specific networks in our profession we can learn more about our field while establishing valuable contacts.


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